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Nathaniel Hackett explains mindset heading into Week 1

Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett has a plan for the team heading into Week 1.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have wrapped up their preseason and are heading straight into the 53-man roster deadline on Tuesday. After the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, head coach Nathaniel Hackett was asked about his plans for the upcoming week and his focus was all about preparing for that Week 1 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

“We want them to get their minds right,” Hackett said after the game on Saturday. “We want to get away a little bit because once we start full board on Seattle, it’s an 18-week grind just for the regular season, and then you have to be ready for the playoffs. So the guys are going to wait a little bit. We want to be sure that they get to run around a little bit, they need to compete. They get a little bit of pop on their pads, stuff like that because we don’t want to go too long without that. So we’ll get two solid days in for sure and a couple of workouts. Then getting away from here for a little bit so that we can get back because we’ve got an extra day coming up for Seattle, Monday night game.”

The practice sessions this week will be somewhat light with a good bit of time off for the players before they come back next week to begin the game week schedule of practices. It’s good timing with Labor Day weekend coming up.

For the next two days, however, all eyes will be on Hackett and the Broncos as they trim their roster to that 53-man limit. We cover this event with the analytics, emotionless side of things, but the fact is over 800 players are going to lose their jobs on Tuesday.

When the Broncos played on Saturday, I personally expected a snoozefest as most final preseason games are. I was pleasantly surprised by how well Denver played and how high the intensity was. I found myself into the game all game long. It would seem the players who played were quite motivated that day and it could have come from what Hackett told the young players before game.

“When we came into this game, I talked with all those guys about that they’re not just out there putting tape out there for us, but it’s for the whole NFL,” Hackett said. “This is a dream for all those guys that are in there. It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran—even for me, for all of us. It’s a dream to be able to do this job. I just wanted to be sure those guys went out there today and gave it their all. Took their shots, make plays, played free, and it was great to see those guys do that and all those guys get after it. I think they are all going to have tape. It might not work out for the Denver Broncos, but very well could work for another football team.”

That’s such a great message to give the team before a ‘meaningless’ game. While many of these players will be on the waivers by Tuesday afternoon, that tape could help them land on a 16-man practice squad somewhere.

This week is a difficult one to cover even as a fan, but the expanded practice squad rules does mean a lot more players keep their NFL dream alive than could even just five years ago. That final game tape could be the difference between sitting at home waiting for another opportunity next offseason and being on the field as a member of a team’s practice squad.